Letter to Bishop Taylor
Sept. 5, 2013
Dear Bishop Taylor:
We are members of a support group called SNAP (the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests). Our mission is to protect the vulnerable and heal the wounded. We are begging you to do this as well, by helping authorities prosecute, convict and jail two Catholic school teachers who face criminal charges for child sex crimes while working in your diocese.
(One of them, Kelly Ann O’Rourke, admitted molesting a student. The other, Kathy Gene Griffin, allegedly concealed O’Rourke’s crimes.)
Yet, as best we can tell, you and your staff have done little or nothing to help police and prosecutors investigate or convict these wrongdoers.
We are begging you to reconsider this irresponsible, self-serving course of action.
Time is short, but we urge you to do all that you can to help make sure these women are kept away from kids for as long as possible. Specifically, we urge you to
--give O’Rourke’s personnel file to the prosecutor as soon as possible,
--write the judge, begging her to lock up the predator for “as long as possible,” and
--use your vast resources (parish bulletins, diocesan website, pulpit announcements) to urge your flock to do likewise.
You can make a difference here, Bishop. Often, predators like O’Rourke and enablers like Griffin get top notch lawyers. Often, they exploit legal technicalities. Often, they get short sentences and later abuse again.
You may be able to prevent this.
By making a strong public plea, and by taking prompt action, you might well bring forward more victims, witnesses, whistleblowers. You might prick the consciences of people who have seen, suspected or suffered the teachers’ crimes - or church/school cover ups – and prod to call law enforcement officials immediately, so that the wrongdoers might face new charges or be jailed longer.
So please, Bishop, announce the two impending court appearances at masses this weekend, and beg anyone with information about these crimes to also contact the police and prosecutors. Please use all of your resources to warn and educate your flock about these two wrongdoers and, more important, help police and prosecutors effectively deal with them.
You could help or hurt prosecutors. For years now, largely by your inaction, you have hurt them. And you’re still doing so right now. Both teachers may well have committed more crimes than police know about.
Catholic officials run and fund schools like MSM, hire and supervise the teachers. But then, reports of child sex crimes and cover ups by these Catholic employees surface, and Catholic officials passively sit back and do little or nothing to really help anyone involved – police, prosecutors, victims or other affected students or staff. It’s inexcusable.
We believe you and other Little Rock Catholic officials have a moral and civic duty to actively help law enforcement prosecute and convict child molesting church staff through aggressive outreach using parish bulletins, church websites and pulpit announcements.
This is especially crucial in Catholic institutions for three reasons. First, because bishops have long ignored and concealed child sex crimes by Catholic employees. Second, because bishops have repeatedly promised to change their ways in child sex cases. And third, because child sex cases are especially difficult for police and prosecutors to pursue, because predators – and those who help them - are usually very shrewd, while their victims are often frightened or confused.
Eleven years ago, you and your fellow US bishops adopted the first-ever national child sex abuse policy. In it, you promised to be “open and transparent” in church child sex abuse cases. So bishops can’t keep quiet and merely suspend child predators and do little or nothing else to safeguard kids.
In the vast majority of child sex abuse cases, offenders are charged with only a fraction of the crimes they actually commit. So a vigorous public awareness effort by church employees – from bishops and monsignors to secretaries and custodians – can make a major difference in how successful prosecutors are in keeping predators away from kids.
We look forward to hearing from you soon.
Please act now, Bishop. Use your information, resources, clout and “bully pulpit” to honor your pledges, help law enforcement, prevent future child sex crimes and deter future cover ups of those crimes.